Disciple Making Secrets

They Biblical KEY to a life of intimacy with God (and it's not what you think!)

Part two of our deep dive into the Biblical principle of obedience-based discipleship.

In our last post, we shared about obedience-based discipleship and how this radical approach to spiritual growth is actually not that radical after all. It's more of a forgotten truth. Yet, so many of us are unfamiliar with this concept. We feel we have to be really studious, read a bunch of books and try to understand complicated sermons, or else we'll never truly be a "mature" Christian. Why is this?

Shadows on a Wall

In order to return to the obedience-based model of discipleship that Jesus taught, it’s helpful to know where our modern, knowledge-based idea comes from. To do that, we need to examine the worldviews of two different ancient civilizations.

The first is the Greeks. Most of us know these toga-wearing antiquarians from their colorful mythology, but their philosophers also contributed much to the way modern people view the world. This is especially true of Westerners or those educated in the cultural West. Of all these Greek philosophers, none was as influential as Plato, and his most famous idea was all about the nature of the mind and how we learn.

It is called the Cave, and it is a bit of a parable itself. In it, several men are chained to a wall. Behind that wall is a fire and some puppets dancing in the light so they cast shadows before the prisoner’s eyes. These prisoners, we are told, have been chained up like this their entire lives. So, for them, these shadow puppets are all they’ve ever known. For all they know, a dog-shaped shadow is what a dog looks like. However, upon being freed, these men climb out of the cave and into the light of day. The sunlight stings their eyes at first, but the more they focus and adjust, the clearer everything becomes. Now, they can finally see things as they are.

For Plato, the cave was an allegory for the unenlightened mind, and the ascent from its darkness represented the acquisition of new knowledge. At first, it is difficult to grasp, but with greater focus and concentration, all becomes clear. In the eyes of the Greeks, this realm of the mind represented the world as it truly is. Throughout history, this idea percolated within the European imagination, leading to the Renaissance, which was the rebirth of ancient Greek ideas. The Renaissance then gave way to the Enlightenment, when the acquisition of knowledge became a bedrock of our modern world. So it’s no surprise that many of us assume the only way to grow as disciples is to grow in knowledge of God. We become armchair theologians, rather than on-the-job apprentices of Jesus.

The One Word that Gives us all we Need to Make Disciples.

Contrast this worldview with that of another ancient people, the Hebrews. Their understanding of growth can best be summed up in one simple word that appears early on in the Bible.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. (Deut. 6:4-6)

That word is Shema, which is usually translated into English as hear. But the problem is there ris no equivalent word in the English language for Shema. For the Hebrews, it meant to receive something and internalize it in a way that produces action. In their minds, if you have listened to something but didn’t put it into practice, then you’ve not really heard it at all. The rest of this verse describes what it looks like to Shema the commands of God:

Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. (Deut 6:7-9)

What we get out of these verses is a lifestyle. People who put God’s words into practice, talk about them as they drive down the road, coming and going from work. They use them to shape their children. Their relationship with God is the first thing you notice when you enter their homes. Their love for Him is so obvious that it’s as if they’ve stamped His words across their foreheads! (Some of them did, too.)

This is the worldview that Jesus is speaking to when he tells us to make disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey everything He has commanded. So, the meanings are clear for us as disciple-makers. We should see ourselves as coaches, not lecturers. We train people in the ways of Jesus so they are competent to do the things He did. We also encourage and support them along the way, so they feel confident in their identity as disciples.

How Waha is Built for Life Change

Waha is built to facilitate such lifestyle transformation, not simply to deliver knowledge. One of the most important questions asked in a Waha lesson is, “What is one thing you will do to put this into practice this week?”

This question is asked to help people set clear, attainable goals for their actions in the week. It means that the greatest life change comes in the weeks between meetings, not the meeting itself. Meetings with the app also begin with a question asking how their obedience went in the previous week. This is an important form of accountability to help make sure that people are doing the things they commit to so that they can grow.

One church planting leader found this incredibly helpful. After using Waha with his house church among a famously hard-to-reach people group, he had this to say:

Obedience has become more prominent in our vocabulary. I’m finding that [the people in our culture] need a lot of permission.  So, we are granting that as often as we can.  Our group is starting a new group in the next month!

So, if you—like many of us—are tired of circling around and around in your spiritual life, obedience-based discipleship may be the answer for you. If you feel that your relationship with God is sustained by the emotional highs of mountaintop experiences, like big conferences and events, or the next big Christian book, it might be because you are acquiring too much new knowledge without putting it into practice. Instead, ask yourself what you can do this week. Seriously! Stop reading this right now and set a goal, however small. Anything that will move you one baby step in the direction you want to be with God. Do that one thing this week.

You might just find the beginnings of a new adventure with God.